Agenda and minutes

Planning Committee - Wednesday, 27th October, 2021 1.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Fenland Hall, County Road, March, PE15 8NQ

Contact: Jo Goodrum  Member Services and Governance Officer

No. Item


Previous Minutes pdf icon PDF 271 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes from the previous meeting of 22 September 2021.


The minutes of the meeting of the 22 September 2021 were confirmed and signed as an accurate record.


Land West Of 207 To 215, Fridaybridge Road, Elm
Erect 2no dwellings (outline application with all matters reserved) pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To determine the application

Additional documents:


David Rowen presented the report to members.


Members received a presentation in accordance with the Public Participation Procedure from Ben Hornigold, the Drainage Consultant, associated with the application.


Mr Hornigold stated that it is his understanding that the committee had decided at its meeting of 30 June to agree the proposal in principle and defer the application for further detail with regard to the Flood Risk Assessment. He explained that he had prepared the Flood Risk Assessment for the site and consulted the Environment Agency (EA), Middle Level Commissioners and the Hundred of Wisbech Internal Drainage Board, with the exercise confirming that the proposed development was appropriate and would remain safe for the 100-year period as required by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).


Mr Hornigold stated that the site falls within Flood Zones 1 and 2 and in line with the NPPF and associated technical document does not require the exception test to be applied. He explained that the title has mapping provided by the EA and it indicates that the site is not at risk of flooding in the case of a breach in tidal defences and the one in a thousand-year event was applied to that element.


Mr Hornigold stated that the EA and Hundred of Wisbech IDB do not object to the development, with the EA recommending that its advice is followed which it has been, and added that the finished floor levels have been required to be raised by 500mm above the adjacent land level. He made the point that the online Government flood risk data indicates that a small portion of the site may suffer from localised surface water flooding, but expressed the opinion that the standing surface water, which was illustrated, is a consequence of a topographical low in the area and as the development site has been down to grass for the past 17 years, due to the traffic on it, the compaction of the soil has taken place which has prevented the infiltration of the surface water into the ground.


Mr Hornigold added that the photograph was taken after an extreme rainfall event in December 2020, and this is not the area within the villages that suffered from flooding and the Hundred of Wisbech IDB have indicated that they will look to find a resolution to that problem by revising the way in which they operate. He explained that he undertook the sequential test review, and, in his opinion, there is no other site in the settlement of the same character or equitable to this site, where two properties can be housed on 2.71 acres of land, which offer the same placement of those properties and he asked the committee to support and approve the application because there are no grounds on flood risk to refuse the application.


Members asked Mr Hornigold the following questions:

·         Councillor Miscandlon asked Mr Hornigold to elaborate on what advice and mitigation works the Internal Drainage Board have proposed to address further flooding episodes. Mr Hornigold  ...  view the full minutes text for item P54/21


8 Market Hill, Chatteris
Conversion of rear storage area of existing restaurant at ground floor level to 1 x 1-bed manager's flat involving the insertion of 1 x side window and relocation of external staircase pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To determine the application


David Rowen presented the report to members.


Members asked officers’ the following questions:

·         Councillor Miscandlon expressed concerns in relation to the term manager’s flat as this is very often not the case, with the dwelling ending up being rented out and asked officers to advise what safeguards can be put in place to make sure that this is solely associated with the business. David Rowen stated that if members are minded to grant the application there is the potential to add a condition to limit the occupancy and tie the flat to the existing restaurant use.

·         Councillor Cornwell stated he agrees it is an important issue to consider and from the presentation it shows the outside area, which is a service area and could have an adverse impact on the residential amenity space of the conversion. He feels if it is a conversion with the possibility of doing more with it then the lack of residential amenity needs to be considered and he would support a condition as suggested by officers.

·         Councillor Marks stated that if a condition was added could it stipulate numbers of persons permitted to reside in the flat to negate any possible issues with overcrowding. David Rowen stated that it would be difficult to add a condition which limits numbers and whist he accepts the point raised by Councillor Marks in relation the type of housing being occupied intensely, these issues would fall under Housing and Environmental legislation.

·         Councillor Connor reminded members that the application being determined is for a manager’s flat.

·         Councillor Murphy stated that if the Council cannot dictate the numbers that the dwelling can accommodate then, in his opinion, it should be refused. David Rowen stated that to impose a planning condition on a manager’s flat to stipulate that it can only house a specified number of people would be unreasonable and any potential breach would have to be addressed by planning enforcement, environmental health, or the private sector housing team.

·         The Legal Officer reiterated to members that they must consider the application on the information before them and they cannot work on suppositions or assumptions.

·         Councillor Cornwell stated that if there are any associated risks with regards to the occupation of the dwelling then weight should be given to the officer’s recommendation with regard to amenity space.

·         Councillor Sutton referred to the drawing at page 43 of the agenda pack where it shows 2 vehicles parked on the driveway and stated that, in his opinion, the drawing is either wrong or the vehicles are very small as the amount of space there is limited. David Rowen stated that the issue of car parking and vehicles manoeuvring has not formed the main consideration of the application and he expressed the view that the survey drawings for the living accommodation would be accurate.

·         Councillor Murphy stated that when the flat at this premises was previously occupied cars were also parked on the hardstanding area and wheelie bins were then left in Station Road on  ...  view the full minutes text for item P55/21


Land West Of 256 Ramsey Road Accessed Via, Milk And Water Drove, Pondersbridge
Erect 1 x dwelling (single-storey, 4-bed) involving the formation of a new access pdf icon PDF 3 MB

To determine the application.

Additional documents:


David Rowen presented the report to members.


Members asked questions, made comments, and received responses as follows:

·         Councillor Benney stated that the application site did have a previously approved planning permission, which was also without a sequential test and, in his view, members need to be consistent in their decision making. He acknowledged that the application is in Flood Zone 3, but for consistency he will be approving the application against the officer’s recommendation.

·         Councillor Sutton stated that he is struggling to see why this application should not be approved as the site did have planning permission previously which has since expired and, in his view, it would therefore be unfair for the proposal before members not to be granted.

·         Councillor Cornwell stated that he was surprised that the site has not been built on before as it is in a very good location. He expressed the opinion that the current Local Plan does not cater for small hamlets and there is no possibly that development can take place in Pondersbridge without being in Flood Zone 3. Councillor Cornwell expressed the view that the proposal will add value to the hamlet, and he does not see any issues with the application, and will support it.

·         Councillor Connor stated that if the floor levels are raised then he cannot see any issue with the proposal.

·         Councillor Bligh stated that she cannot see any reason why the application should not be supported.

·         Councillor Marks stated that he can recall that the field opposite the bus stop used to flood regularly, however, the application site to the best of his knowledge has never been known to flood.

·         Councillor Murphy stated that he agrees with the comments made by other members and he can see no reason why the site should not be built on.


Proposed by Councillor Cornwell, seconded by Councillor Mrs Bligh and agreed that the application be APPROVED against the officer’s recommendation with conditions to be delegated to officers.


Members did not support the refusal of planning permission as they felt that the application site was the only available land in Pondersbridge, apart from one other site which was not in Flood Zone 3, due to the site previously having approved planning permission members should be consistent in decision making and with adequate mitigation measures against flooding being put in place the site has less chance of flooding than the surrounding properties.


(Councillor Mrs Mayor registered, in accordance with Paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct on Planning Matters, that she is a member of Whittlesey Town Council’s Planning Committee, and was present when this application was discussed, and took no part in the discussion and voting thereon)


(Councillor Miscandlon registered, in accordance with Paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct on Planning Matters, that he is Chairman of Whittlesey Town Council’s Planning Committee, and took no part in the discussions or voting thereon)


Eastrea Hill Farm,182 Wype Road, Eastrea
Erect an agricultural contractor's workshop involving the demolition of existing buildings to the rear of the site pdf icon PDF 730 KB

To determine the application.


David Rowen presented the report to members.


Members received a presentation in accordance with the Public Participation Procedure, from Mr Ian Lockhart, in objection to the application.


Mr Lockhart stated that he is currently building dwellings to the north of the applicants’ business premises. He expressed the view that he has no objections to the running of the current business and respects that it has been in the village for a long time but stated that if approved any new planning application needs to take into consideration the health and safety regulations and respect the neighbouring properties and surrounding area.


Mr Lockhart stated that the applicant has objected to every planning application for the houses to the north and the bungalows to the south and that the future homeowners will complain to the Council about the noise created from his business. He stated that as the application is for a new engineering workshop much closer to the houses to the north of the original buildings, if the application is approved, in his opinion, it is the perfect opportunity for the Council and the applicant to install sound reducing cladding to the new building to negate noise complaints in the future.


Mr Lockhart added that he is also concerned about the chemicals which he believes could be stored on the site due to the type of business in operation and expressed the view as to whether a concrete floor should be stipulated, rather than an earth floor, to mitigate any spillages or leaks omitting from the spraying machinery stored to ensure that any issues can be cleaned and cleared appropriately and there needs to be consideration given to the local children and grandchildren that reside locally in this instance. He expressed the view that according to the current application and the previous application that was approved in 2020, both are more than 60% bigger than the replacement buildings and questioned that if this increase is required for business expansion, will it also mean an increase in agricultural traffic and employees working on site?


Mr Lockhart stated that Wype Road has a weight limit and road width concerns have been raised previously by the Highway Authority with regard to other planning applications. He expressed the opinion that misinformation has been presented to Whittlesey Town Council, the Planning Department at the Council, and the Planning Committee with regard to information provided concerning the electricity power lines and the electricity transformer, which is situated between his site and the applicant’s business premises.


Mr Lockhart explained that the transformer pole is on the southern side of an existing boundary fence and within a laurel hedge which he assumes belong to the applicant. He referred to the presentation screen which showed the hedge and electricity pole and added that it has been suggested as part of the planning process that the laurel hedge is part of his land but on the planning application it details the hedge as being on the applicant’s land forming the north  ...  view the full minutes text for item P57/21


The Piggeries, Flaggrass Hill Road, March
Erect 2 x 2-storey 4-bed dwellings with covered parking involving demolition of existing outbuildings pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To determine the application.

Additional documents:


David Rowen presented the report to members


Members received a presentation, in accordance with the Public Participation Procedure, from Gina Taylor, an objector to the application.


Ms Taylor stated that she is representing the objecting bungalow residents along Creek Fen and added that these are not solely her personal views and concerns. She added that the residents of just one of the bungalows knows Mr Upton, the applicant, and she clarified that none of the objections are directed personally towards him.


Ms Taylor expressed the view that they strongly feel that the application is completely detrimental and out of character with the surrounding bungalows and she added that the proposed properties are approximately 8.9 m in height and the current UK average height for a two-storey property is between 4.7 m and 5.8 m. She added that the plans clearly show windows in the roof and a large void area on the first floor Indicating the true intention is for 2 times 3 storey properties.


Ms Taylor stated that the proposal does not make a positive contribution to the local distinctiveness and character as required by new development under Policy LP16 of the Local Plan. She stated that the site is not Brownfield, so it is in clear conflict with LP3, and as such to be used for land-based purposes.


Ms Taylor explained that most of the surrounding neighbours were present when the land was used for pigs with no concerns other than pigs escaping into the gardens. She stated that with the current buildings being in a derelict state there could be a case for abandonment before they could be used for housing livestock again and, in her view, the site is a haven for wildlife enjoyed by the residents and a late submission ecology report states the presence of Pipistrelle bat droppings.


Ms Taylor added that when considering the sightings of bats in the resident’s gardens they all request that the site be fully and independently surveyed before any clearing of the land or buildings works are undertaken and with special attention to the genuine and real potential for Protected Species on site especially bats and newts, as these creatures are most likely to inhabit the most undisturbed and inaccessible areas.  She explained that flooding around the residents’ properties is already an issue, with surface water in their gardens a regular occurrence following heavy rainfall and referred to the presentation screen which showed instances of historic flooding.


Ms Taylor explained that there is concern regarding the dimensions and general access to the site and she requested that this should be properly and independently measured with the relevant neighbours present as well as the applicant. She made the point that the Fenland Local Plan addresses facilitating the health and well-being of Fenland residents, however, in her opinion, the types of residents occupying such huge properties will undoubtedly be families, totally different to the current homeowners.


Ms Taylor stated that all immediate neighbours on all 4 sides joining the site  ...  view the full minutes text for item P58/21


Planning Appeals. pdf icon PDF 145 KB

To consider the appeals report.


David Rowen presented the appeals report to members.


Members asked questions, made comments, and received responses as follows:

·         Councillor Sutton referred to the Eastwood End appeal and stated that over the years officers have cited the recommendation for refusal as Eastwood End is in an elsewhere location and, therefore, unsustainable. He asked that now an Appeal Inspector has made his decision, which is different to all other decisions made by Inspectors previously, would that now mean that officers will look at that settlement differently? David Rowen stated that the point could have been raised that the decision made was an inconsistent decision taken by this Inspector. He added that the issue which has changed the thinking in respect of Eastwood End is the granting of planning permission in August 2021, where the Planning Committee decided that it was a sustainable location connected to Wimblington. David Rowen stated that the Inspector’s decision followed by the decision made by the Planning Committee for the purposes of consistency may now change the way Eastwood End is viewed going forward. Councillor Sutton asked will that view be held by officers going forward? David Rowen stated that officers need to be mindful of decisions made by the Council and the last decision made by the committee in respect of Eastwood End is that it is an appropriate location for residential development and, therefore, the in principle issues that surrounded Eastwood End in the past have now been eroded by the decision of the Inspector and that of the committee.

·         Councillor Mrs Davis stated that it is unfortunate that the Inspector did not take into consideration that this particular application was a lot further out of the settlement than the applications that the committee had deemed acceptable. She added that this application had to cross a public byway and she fails to understand how the Inspector reached his decision.

·         Councillor Murphy questioned that if another application is brought forward then it would need to still be considered as a standalone development. David Rowen stated that although the broad principle would be accepted, it would not mean that the assessment of the individual character and appearance issues would not still be required.


Members agreed to note the appeals report.